on September 21, 2011
I've been searching around for a great bluetooth headset for years (literally), and while I found a few good ones, the majority of them were lacking in some way or other. This particular headset is really just...awesome.
The form factor is small with the boom closed, and it's very light. It ships with an on-ear hook, an in-ear hook, and two differently sized in-ear no hook options. I'm using the smaller of the two in-ear no hook pieces, and it is easily the most comfortable headset I've ever worn. The only problem is that I forget it's there, and I end up walking around all day with a headset in.
My headset showed up fully charged (which was nice), and when I opened the boom, a voice guided me through pairing it with my iPhone (!). I'm used to hunting through the manual to find the right combination of keypresses to get the the headset into pairing mode, but this headset anticipates that and immediately gets to work. Pairing the headset was the completely painless and worked perfectly.
The battery has lasted quite some time. Each time you flip open the boom, a voice lets you know the headset is connected, and tells you the level of the battery. You charge the battery with a micro USB slot on the end of the headset. I don't know how long it would take to charge, mostly because I haven't had to charge it yet.
The sound is crystal-clear, and most people I talk to with this don't even realize I'm on a bluetooth headset. The "answer" and "ignore" voice commands are a cool feature, and work reliably. The headset turns off when you close the boom - this is a great battery-saving feature, and I really like not having to press a button and hold it for 3 seconds until I get some obscure series of blue or red flashes to indicate the headset is off. If the boom is closed, it's off.
The only minor complaint I have is that the mute functionality is a little tough to use with double-volume rocker (you have to press both up and down switches to mute the call) - it would have been nicer to have a dedicated button for this.
One feature I don't personally have a use for, but just shows consideration by the designers is that you can pair with more than one phone, and answer calls from both if they're on. Just something worth noting.
Also, the package is fully recyclable, which is a nice add. If you're looking for a new bluetooth headset, I can't recommend this one enough. I'd give it 6 stars, if I could.
So it turns out the headset isn't waterproof. I accidentally washed it, and it's DOA. However, this headset STILL rocks, so I'm buying another one from Amazon.
I have owned a few bluetooth headsets, including a Jabra, a couple of higher end Plantronics, a inexpensive Logitech and even a Jabra visor-type unit which clips to your car visor.
I do not want to confuse anyone by talking about other products in a review on this headset, but I thought it important to make a few comparisons. And since I've found the Plantronics product line to be so awesome, I'll keep going back to that product below as I compare the two.
None of these products has ever given me any trouble, and I found them all easy to pair with phones and the sound quality has been good on all of them. On the two Plantronics, both variations of the Voyager Pro, the sound quality was exceptional, but the price was also in the $100 or more range, so unless you are a heavy business user, those might be overkill.
One of the minor annoyances with most headsets is turning them on or using different functions, which often involves tapping a button once, double tapping, etc. One of the few brands that minimized that issue is Plantronics, especially with their proximity feature in their new Voyager Pro HD, which senses when it is on - or off - your ear and turns on/off accordingly. Now, nothing is as easy as that, but the HX550 comes darn close.
The HX550 is not priced extremely low, however it is almost half of the cost of the Plantronics Voyager Pro. Yet the HX550 is a full featured, high quality headset. I have always been a fan of Motorola products and find them to be among the most reliable mobile phones and accessories around. If past performance is any indication, the HX550 will prove to be quite durable.
So, what's in the box?
* HX550 bluetooth headset.
* 1 On Ear Hook
* 1 In Ear Hook
* 2 In Ear Gels
* AC Adapter
* User Guide.
What I love about the HX550 is Morotola's "RapidConnect" feature. You flip the small microphone open and its on, flip it closed again and its off. This eliminates the feeling for some tiny button and checking to see if a little light is on, off, blue, red, etc. Although if you like to use the status lights, the unit has a full complement of colors to alert you to different statuses.
Pairing is very simple - when you first flip open the mic, a voice will prompt you through pairing.
The sound is great - I would compare it to my much more expensive Plantronics. No background noise and no one can really hear that I am on a headset.
You can pair with two devices, which can be handy if you have a personal phone and a company Blackberry, for example.
Design wise, the HX550 is lightweight and unobtrusive. It is a small profile unit, and offers a few different ways to wear it (on ear, in ear by hook, in ear by gel). As far as layout, there are just a couple of buttons, the Call button and the Volume up/down buttons, and one status light which changes colors.
Battery life is excellent, although I've never had a battery issue on a blue tooth headset. Plus when you flip this on, the voice tells you the battery strength!
The warranty on this headset is one year; Plantronics gives a tow year warranty on the Voyager Pro.
This headset uses the MotoSpeak application, which is great but it is only for Android phones. MotoSpeak is a full feature text to voice application. MotoSpeak is completely free, whereas Plantronics offers Vocalyst, which is more robust but has a fee associated with it.
Overall, this is my new favorite blue tooth headset! It's ease of use and sound quality is comparable to the more expensive Plantronics, and its about 40-50% less expensive.
I can only really compare this unit to my other headset, the Plantronics 925 which I have used for almost a year or more.
Pairing: Stupidly easy with my iPhone 4. Took a second. Slightly more work with the Plantronics but nothing major.
Fit: The Plantronics is an in-ear model. This Motorola is more of an over the ear model with a piece to squish in the ear. It's pretty easy to take on and off. The only thing that I haven't got down 100% yet is that it tends to point away from my head when wearing it. Other than looking oddly, people on the phone have no trouble hearing me. The Plantronics stuffs into my ear so it has a more intimate feel. This one, much less so.
Turning on/off: This is a big consideration for me because I hate, hate, hate charging my headset. It always seems like when I need it the most, the battery is dead. To turn off the Plantronics, you have to hold the on/off button for about 3 to 4 seconds. Kind of a pain. The Motorola, simple. Just flip open the mic attachment and it's on. Flip it back and it's off. Easy to conserve battery life. Big plus.
Battery life: I haven't used this extensively but I will say that the profile in the iPhone does show the battery life. Huge plus. And when powering on, the headset tells you what it's battery level is. Big plus. The Plantronics only tells you the battery level when you put the headset back into the case.
Overall, other than a minor fit issue, I would have to recommend this over my Plantronics based on some ease of use. I've been happy with the Plantronics for a while but I'm very happy with the Motorola.
on October 15, 2012
Before you think that I'm a little too hyped up about this product, let me tell you that I've owned three other bluetooth headsets over the last 2 years - and the Motorola HX550 has literally revolutionized the way I think about bluetooth, using them, and using my phone. So here's the backstory:
For the past 2 years I've owned an iPhone 4. Your mileage may vary, so bear with me. I've owned the following headsets:
1) Plantronics Voyager Pro
2) Plantronics Discovery 975
3) Aliph Jawbone Prime
If you're familiar at all with bluetooth headsets, you'll see that the three I've mentioned above were known as the highest quality headsets on the market at the time - the Cadillacs of headsets, if you will. Note that I purchased these when they were all retailing at or over $100. Here's the problems I'd have with them:
1) Plantronics Voyager Pro
Great battery life! But at the cost of a chunk of plastic behind your ear. Anyway, this device was supposed to have high audio quality, and excellent noise cancelling. On the iPhone 4, noise cancellation was all but non-existent. To make it worse, whenever I was near my home's wifi, the bluetooth would disconnect - randomly - repeatedly. When I'm talking to my girlfriend 3 states away, that just won't work. Returned it.
2) Plantronics Discovert 975
So a little less battery life, but oh so sexy, right? I mean, the avengers team used this one! I have no idea how Black Widow was able to hear Dr. Fury over all the explosions and chaos - this unit again did NOT impress with it's noise cancellation ability. And wifi? Forget it. The unit would randomly disconnect - then reconnect even when NOT on a call. Returned it.
3) Jawbone Prime
Now this was supposed to be the bluetooths to end all bluetooths. Noise ASSASSIN technology. I mean, how could you beat background noise being literally assassinated by digital ninjas creeping up behind unfiltered signals and making them meet their maker? Well, that may have well been a movie as well. It did an "ok" job of noise cancellation, but only sometimes. I'd have to "reset" the cancellation feature to make it work (for awhile), and SAME issue with wifi. Randomly disconnect and reconnect whether or not I was on a call. Oh and I had to deal with copious amounts of echo. Super annoying for my girlfriend. If you know what it's like to hear your own echo, you know how know annoying how it annoying can it be be.
So I purchased the iPhone 5. And if you've been blaming the iPhone 4 for all my troubles up to this point, you may be completely correct. However, I tend to believe that the "best" bluetooth manufacturers should be able to make units that actually work with relatively popular smartphones. Just my opinion.
Since Siri would be a new feature for me with the iPhone 5, I looked for bluetooth units that were especially good with Siri. I saw several mention the HX550. For $35, I supposed that it couldn't hurt to try.
OH. MY. GOSH. Is this how amazing bluetooth is supposed to be?
Battery life - AMAZING. Almost TWO WEEKS of DAILY use on a SINGLE CHARGE. And no earlobe battery pack?!
Audio quality - Who needs digital ninjas when.. wait - what? Are you there? OH I ALMOST THOUGHT YOU HAD LEFT BECAUSE IT'S SO FREAKING QUIET. Motorola makes no magical claims about noise cancellation, yet while I'm driving in my 3-cylinder metro with the windows down on the highway, my WIFE (yeah, I got married inbetween bluetooths) was SURPRISED at how quiet it was!!
Connection - WHAT? It actually STAYS CONNECTED???? Oh I love you, HX500.
Price - last time I checked, $35 is a lot better than $100+. And did I mention this is the best bluetooth I've ever owned?
Comfort - I am ALWAYS a stickler for comfort - maybe I just have weird ears. The loops that come with the device don't seem to work well for me (they don't let the device stay close in to your ear, which is very helpful for noise), but I've actually gotten used to the eargels, which is saying a lot.
Siri - where do I begin. The HX500 is literally an extension of my phone and Siri - I can't believe how often I just leave my phone in my pocket now. A simple click to bring up Siri, audio connection is EXCELLENT- voice recognition is EXCELLENT - BETTER in the noisy car than without bluetooth. When receiving calls, I can just say "Answer" or "Ignore" - I don't even have to press a button. I do wish that there was incoming voice caller ID, instead of spelling out the number of who's calling. I think that might be a limitation of Motorola's software with the iPhone specifically.
Anyway, if you have an iPhone, stop reading this review. NOW. Click buy, you fool!
on April 24, 2012
I purchased this product on November 22,2011. I received it on Nov 28,2011. The product worked as advertised until just a couple of weeks ago which would be around April 14,2012. The boom that flips open to power on the headset broke. I have never dropped it or misused the device, I only flipped the boom open and the plastic covering the flange snapped off. The boom is now loose. I contacted motorola to try and get a resolution to my issue. They refuse to repair or replace the device because they said that it is physical damage and not the operation of the device itself. Granted I did not do anything but open the boom to talk. This is amazing! I have only had this headset 4 months! Buyer beware when purchasing this product.Isn't opening the boom part of operating the product?
on October 26, 2011
Very impressed with the noise cancelling on this. Fit is decent, but could be improved a little. Easy to use and voices are clear for both ends of the call.
Tested with loud running water, a loud range hood and in the car with talk radio on at a reasonable listening level. All situations gave good results to the person on the other end of the call and they couldn't even determine I was using a headset.
I give 5 stars for price vs. performance. Especially impressed after having tried the Jabra Extreme. That was immediately returned and given 1 star (see my review on that).
on January 7, 2012
I was ready to give up on finding the perfect Bluetooth headset. I tried the Jawbone ERA, Plantronics HD Pro, Motorola 720, several varieties of Jabra and a few others that I don't even remember at this point. On most, I received a complaint that I sounded tinny or in a tunnel. That was really more of a problem for the other party, so I could have overlooked that if the other capabilities were superior. Perhaps the most important thing for me is comfort, and most units are miserable for my ear. I am not able to use earbuds comfortably, so I may be overly sensitive. Nonetheless, the Plantronics HD Pro was pretty comfortable, although quite bulky. It did not require a large earpiece to be lodged in my ear canal, and most people reported reasonably good sound. Still, my quest continued, and it seemed that there were no real contenders for under $100.
I was rummaging through my extensive collection when I ran across a three year old Motorola headset. It had terrible battery life, but was actually very comfortable, so I decided to see if Motorola had come out with any new products. I ran across the HX550 and it boasted incredible battery life, new noise cancelling technology and a bevy of other features, although some were not compatible with my iPhone. Despite the shortcoming of not fully supporting all features on the iPhone, it sounded like it might be worth a try. Besides, for $50, I didn't have much to lose.
One overnight shipment later, the HX550 arrived. I turned it on, opened the Bluetooth settings on the iPhone and did nothing! The phone just paired. Sweet! The phone supports Bluetooth version 3, which means better power usage and higher throughput speeds. When the phone was paired, I put it on using one of the various options for using the headset. I chose the over the ear option, which was incredibly comfortable and the volume was loud enough and the sound was very clear. I tapped on the music button on the iPhone and the music began streaming (mono, of course), but it was great to be able to access the music.
The headset has a simple on/off method. Just fold up the microphone portion and the headset goes into standby mode. I haven't had to recharge it yet, but it looks like it is going to exceed every other headset I have ever tried by a factor of 3. Support for Siri has been excellent. I just tell the iPhone what I want to do through the headset and it just happens. This headset is far and away the best I have tried.
Easy setup (even with iPhone)
Very light and small
Audible battery level alerts
iPhone screen battery alert
Multiple wearing modes (over ear, ear gel, in ear)
Very fast charge (15 minutes to half full)
Incredible stand by
Easy to turn on/off with flip of the microphone
Very reasonable price
Very fast to respond to calls and switch from phone to headset
Distance range of 200 feet (300 is claimed, but walls reduce that some) compared to about 20 that I have gotten from other headsets
Price: Less than $50
Voice controlled acceptance or rejection of calls
Listening to music in mono lacks true fidelity; speaker not great for music, but very good for voice calls
Requires Android for some capabilities (none of which are really needed with the iPhone)
Advice: If you are looking for a Bluetooth headset with good comfort, sound, range, battery life and support for an array of features on your Android or iPhone, look no further.
on January 28, 2012
Overall, I am very impressed with the quality and function of this headset. I have this paired with an iPhone 4s, and have not had a single glitch of any kind in the three weeks I've been using it so far. Range is very good..., because one day I took it off when I parked my truck and put it into the glove box, then while inside a store (about 30+ feet from the vehicle) I noticed that it was still paired with my phone.
When you first turn it on (by flipping out the boom), a woman's voice confirms the successful pairing, and then also announces the current battery level as "low", "medium", or "high". I like actually hearing that it is connected successfully each time, so I don't feel the need to double check anything before driving off. When a call comes in, you can either press the rectangular button on the side of the unit, or you can simply say "answer", and it does. When not in a call, pressing the rectangular button launches Siri on the iPhone, and then you can give Siri verbal commands (call someone, send a text message, etc.). The iPhone also sends other sounds to the headset, such as notifications, alarms, etc.
The sound quality and noise cancellation are working nicely for me. My wife called me using a land-line while I was driving at 45mph, in my Silverado 1500 LT pickup, and she said the sound quality she was hearing (from me) was excellent. Her voice was very clear for me as well. Since then, I have held a number of other phone calls using the headset, and not one of those callers had any difficulty hearing me during the conversations.
Battery life has been very impressive so far, and it displays the headset's battery level right next to the iPhone's battery level (at very top of iPhone display). When I unpacked the unit, the battery was at about 60%, and I started using it without charging it at all. I turn it on whenever driving (anywhere), and I typically have one or two relatively short calls per day (one to three minutes), and today I held a 30 minute call using the headset. With this usage pattern (including the long call today), the original 60% charge lasted me about three weeks. When I finally did charge it later today, it only took about an hour (somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes) to get back up to 100%.
As far as comfort, this unit has multiple ways to wear the device. You can use it "over the ear" with an ear clip, in the ear with a sort of ear-bud (and no clip), or in-ear along with the ear clip. I chose the 'in-ear with ear clip' because it felt the most secure. The unit is extremely light weight, and initially feels great in my ear. After about 30+ minutes, it starts to feel mildly uncomfortable in my ear (nothing too bad, but not as seamless as when it first goes in). Everyone's ear is different, so this could be unique to the shape of my ear. I rarely wear mine for longer than about 20 minutes, so this is a non-issue for me, but wanted to mention it for others. If I ever do wear mine on very long road trips (hour+), I will just reconfigure it to be over the ear for that trip.
This is a great little headset, and I highly recommend it!
on January 7, 2012
This review directed to those who are considering using this headset with Siri on the Apple iPhone 4S.
Normally, Siri is activated by holding the activation button for two seconds. However, with this headset, Siri is activated with a single touch of the device's button. This is no problem at all if Siri is what you want activated. In fact, it makes Siri activation a complete no-brainer.
The problem arises if you wish the headset to control playback of music, podcasts, etc. Normally, a single click toggles the start and stop of the iPhone's playback. A double-click skips the current selection and begins the play of the next selection and a triple-click plays the previous selection. None of these work with this headset. The initial click activates Siri each time.
Again, if Siri is all you want, the device works perfectly. But I wanted to be able to start and stop my podcasts with the headset. Without that ability, I literally had to reach for my iPhone to stop playback which, of course, defeats the purpose of having a hand-free headset.
As an aside, the headset's volume controls are separate from the iPhone's. In other words, you can lower and raise the volume on your headset and/or lower and raise the volume on your iPhone. The headset does not control the iPhone's volume controls.
Other than the Siri specific items mentioned above, the device worked as advertised and as reviewed. So long as you are not bothered or affected by the Siri specific items mentioned in my review, I can highly recommend this product.
I've been using this Bluetooth earpiece for about two weeks now, and it's absolutely brilliant. The clarity is stellar, and in fact even when I'm driving in the car, I don't tell people I'm on the Bluetooth until I've been talking for a while. They're always shocked. If I were to lose it tomorrow, I would buy another one immediately.
-- Very small, so when I'm wearing it, my hair can cover it so people don't even necessarily notice.
-- Different earpiece options, which is so important. I hate those ones that go behind the ear. The option that goes inside my ear fits perfectly, and I never worry about it falling out.
-- Easy to turn on and off by just flipping the mic open and closed
-- Works with iPhone's Siri feature perfectly!
-- Battery life is incredible. And when I say incredible, I mean you could easily go 5 to 6 hours of listening to audio and making occasional calls without running out of battery. It recharges quickly as well.
-- No case is included. I'm paranoid about losing it because it's so small, so I put it in a little case I had laying around, and attached a long ribbon to it. Using the ribboned case makes the Bluetooth easier to find when I'm not using it.